Body found under Tumwater bridge in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — A 49-year-old Port Angeles man jumped to his death Thursday afternoon shortly before 4 p.m. from the Eighth Street bridge that spans the Tumwater Truck Route to the road below, said Deputy Chief Jason Viada of the Port Angeles Police Department.

The identity of the man was being withheld as of 5 p.m. Thursday, Viada said.

“There might be some people out there worried that it’s someone they know or they love,” he said.

“We’ve still got to make sure we get the family notified before we release the identity.”

At 4 p.m., Officer Jeff Thaxton was searching an older model white Subaru compact wagon Thursday that was parked just west of the Tumwater bridge. Thaxton said the car may belong to the man.

Four witnesses who were on the bridge saw the man go over the railing, Viada said.

Viada said the death was intentional.

A police dispatcher received the first report at 3:51 p.m. Thursday.

The bridges that span the Tumwater gorge and Valley Creek gorge on Eighth Street are 98 feet above the ground at their highest points and have 4-foot, 6-inch combination wall-railings as barriers.

The heavily traveled Tumwater Truck Route was closed in both directions at U.S. Highway 101, Tumwater and West Lauridsen Boulevard and at Marine Drive in both northbound and southbound from shortly after the first report of the death until 4:20.

Viada said the southbound lane was open but the northbound lane was closed until at least 5 p.m. while police waited to assist a funeral home with removal of the body, which was covered with a white sheet while vehicles passed by.

“It’s another balancing of two bad decisions,” Viada said.

“We don’t want anyone to see that, but at the same time, we don’t want traffic backed up all the way downtown and down Marine Drive, so we opened one lane.”

Viada said he did not know if an autopsy will be conducted.

He did not have immediate access Thursday afternoon to records showing when the last death from one of the Eighth Street bridges occurred.

A 21-year-old Port Angeles woman fell to her death from the eastern Eighth Street bridge the morning of Oct. 11, 2014.

In July 2012, a 20-year-old Port Angeles woman jumped to her death from the Tumwater bridge.

Between April 27 and May 18 2009, two men attempted suicide, one threatened suicide, and a fourth man leaped to his death, according to police records.

In 2012, a city utility employee grabbed a person who was in the process of jumping off one of the bridges.

The original bridges, built in 1936, had 7-foot, 8-inch fences that were added in 1959 to the central areas of the spans.

The new bridges were opened Feb. 24, 2009, as part of a $24.6 million project.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.